Angling for an early pelagic season
  |  First Published: October 2016

The Mid North Coast of NSW is home to some amazing bass fishing. The Macleay River offers a fishery that’s as good as it gets. There’s a buzz in the air in the Macleay Valley this time of year, from the excited first-time toddlers tagging along with mum or dad, through to great grandparents dusting off their closed face reels and lures that have worked for decades and every obsessed individual between. The beauty of bass fishing is that you can make it as involved or as simple as you like. You still catch fish and have a great day with family and friends.

The bass season started well this year, with cracking fish being caught from day one. The stretches of river around and above Kempsey will provide the best numbers of fish. Reports are that fish are right up through the upper reaches of the river system. The surface bite, which most anglers desire, will increase as we progress towards summer. Fishing in the dark or at first and last light will still draw out a surface strike most of the year.

For the moment, most fish are taken on spinnerbaits and divers, as well as soft and hardbody vibes fished tight to structure or around schooling bait. River whaler or bull sharks will become rampant in the upper tidal zones over the next few months. These fish will take live or freshly dead baits, fished on plastic coated wire. Remember to handle with care and if you don’t intend on eating your catch, release it unharmed.

Down in the salt around Smithtown, there have been good numbers of flathead and bream, as well as a few straggler bass still in the area. School mulloway have been right through the lower Macleay, as always. The average size of these fish has increased over the last few years since the size limits were raised. Small to medium soft plastics fished around a high tide change have been extremely productive on these fish, especially white, green and brown.

A few anglers have had the shock of their lives after big mulloway have slammed their small offerings, leaving them with a fight. Big flathead, trevally, tailor, kingfish and even mangrove jacks can be a proposition along the rock walls at this time of year, even using small lures. It pays to always upsize your leader and use light main lines.

Luderick numbers have not been massive in the river again this year, but these fish are about with some of the smaller creeks in the region being quite productive at times. Whiting are starting to show up in the creeks and on the sandflats around Jerseyville, as well as some honkers along the beaches.

Offshore, the current is absolutely trucking south on occasions. The hope around town, is that these conditions will bring on an early pelagic season, for the Mid North Coast. Things can change day by day. Kingfish are in good numbers everywhere, from in close around the headlands, around Fish and Black rocks, and out on the deeper reefs and wrecks. Locating schools of baitfish on the surface can lead to some awesome surface sessions on kings at this time of year on stickbaits, poppers or large unweighted plastics like Lunker City Slug-Gos. Snapper are still coming in regularly with some big fish coming off the shallow reefs down around Crescent Head.

With October being known for unpredictable conditions, we may get a chance to sit in the sheds and prepare our gear for the upcoming pelagic season, which fingers crossed, comes early this year.


This Macleay mulloway was a solid 22kg.


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